This feels a little late to the party. I thought that we’d finally stopped with the young adult novel adaptations (or YANA, apparently) for now. Although to be fair, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, does have its reasons for being late. What with the main star in critical condition after an onset accident. Thankfully he’s made a full recovery and has brought us the last in the Maze Runner trilogy. The Maze Runner was not a film I got into; it had good action, was well acted and directed, but the story, characters and effects were just so bad and unengaging. The Scorch Trials was a little better; the action was better, so was the acting, directing and story, but the characters were still weak, and it was just so boring to watch. Now there’s a third one – so, yeah…
After their friend is kidnapped, Thomas and co try to save him from the last remaining city on Earth. The problem is that this city is run by WCKD (stupidly pronounced as Wicked, can’t get more forced than that) – the company that aims to torture and kill them to harvest the cure for a zombie-like virus that is killing off mankind. Aiming to gain help from the traitor, Theresa, Thomas comes up with a plan to save his friends from WCKD once and for all. But the deeper he goes, the more he has to ask – should he sacrifice many, for the sake of a few?
Thankfully, this is not a book split into two parts. They have one book to follow and are going to do it in one. So, unless they plan on making those prequel books to this series, they’re not going to make any more of these films. Which, I’ll admit is a bit of a shame, because The Death Cure is the first film in the Maze Runner series I’ve gotten into. Surprise, surprise, the action, acting and directing are still very good. This is easily the most visually interesting of the films. It comes off less like a Hunger Games knock-off and more like a Neill Blomkamp film. It’s gritty and dirty but has some nice sci-fi locations and set-pieces to spice things up every now and again. But, the story isn’t that bad, and I finally cared about the characters. They’re still blank slates, but I could relate to them finally.
Dylan O’Brian is really good at playing as Thomas. I hated this character in the other two, but here I do follow him and relate to his struggles and predicaments. O’Brian completely sells the emotional moments the character has, as well as the action scenes. I’d like to see him in more action films later on – he may have a talent there. The other kids, including Thomas Brodie-Sangster do very well too. Brodie-Sangster in particular stands out and delivers a great deal of humanity to his role. We also get an amusing performance by Giancarlo Esposito as a rugged rogue with a heart of gold. And an even more amusing performance from Aiden Gillen as the over-the-top bad-guy with really bizarre priorities.
Wes Ball does well in directing the series once again. It’s not often a director does an entire series, so I applaud him for that. He also demonstrates that his eye for action is so keen that he should be given the script for the next James Bond film. It’s very thrilling action, with some real edge-of-the-seat moments. Even the more emotional moments are done well. Once scene in particular hits you in the tear ducts. Although, Ball does have a weird fascination with Jurassic Park. That’s my favourite film, so I find it weird when someone tries to mimic scenes from it in films like this. This led to a moment in the film I lovingly called “Littlefinger in the kitchen”.
But, don’t go thinking that I’m singing this film’s praises. The truth is, it’s still not very good. It’s way too long for a start. Clocking in at over two and a half hours. It doesn’t help that the ending is as swiftly delivered as that of The Return of the King. It’s not well written either, causing the pacing to suffer even further and tonally clashing at more than one point. The Death Cure also has a severe lack of scale. The action is big, but the story has no weight to it. The urgency is told to us, but not sold. It feels like if Thomas or WCKD screw up with their plans then they can just try again tomorrow. But, it mostly just suffers from a lack of originality. I mentioned the Jurassic Park reference, but there’s so much more. The WCKD logo is ripped from Aliens. The city is like that of Blade Runner. The zombie infection is handled the same way as The Walking Dead. Even the plot feels too familiar, from countless sci-fi films. Nothing is done new enough to justify this, making the film feel far too predictable.
I enjoyed The Death Cure. It’s the first of the series I have enjoyed. Despite this, it does have its colossal flaws. It just depends on what you want. If you’re just after a fun little action film, with some cool visuals, great action and some genuine emotional moments, then I think you’ll enjoy it. If you like the other two then you’ll definitely enjoy it. Otherwise, just give it a pass. I expected a subpar action film – I got an on par action film with some stand out moments and a hilarious villain performance. So, yes, I’m happy. It also made me feel like giving the books a try finally, so I’ll give it that too.
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